Building and maintaining muscle mass is essential for marching band athletes to meet the physical demands of performing. Optimal nutrition is crucial for developing the muscle required to reach peak performance on the field. Here are common nutrition and muscle-building questions marching athletes ask.
What should I eat to build muscle?
There are 2 main concerns when it comes to building muscle in marching band; adequate calories and adequate protein. When your muscles are put to work, they break down and rebuild to become bigger and stronger. In order to rebuild, they need enough protein. Protein provides the building blocks that make up every muscle and tissue in our body.
Protein-rich foods can come from both animal and plant products. Our bodies can use the protein from animal products (meat, fish, eggs, and dairy) more efficiently than plant products. This doesn’t mean you can’t be a vegetarian or vegan as a marching athlete, but it requires very careful planning to ensure your needs are being met. Plants sources of protein include soy products (soy milk, tofu, edamame), whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice), beans, nuts, and seeds. These also provide other nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s best to get your protein needs met from a variety of sources.
Eating lots of protein might not be enough to help your body gain muscle. Without adequate overall calories, your body will use that protein for energy rather than for building muscle. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred fuel source. Inadequate carbohydrate intake can cause increased risk for injury, decreased focus, early onset of fatigue, and limit overall athletic performance. At least half of your plate should be made up of carbohydrate rich foods. Aim to get most of your carbohydrates from “whole food” sources like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains. Avoid added sugars from ultra-processed snack foods and beverages as they don’t provide the extra nutrition like whole foods do.
How much protein do I need?
As a marching athlete, you will have greater needs than the average adolescent, but everyone’s protein needs variety greatly depending on the individual. A general range to shoot for is about 1.2-2 g/kg of your body weight per day. To find your weight in kilograms, divide it by 2.2. For example: 150lb /2.2 = 68.2 kg. That means someone weighing 150 lb should aim for at least 82 grams (68.2kg x1.2 = 82) up to 136 grams (68.2kg X2 = 136) of protein daily.
It’s best to spread out your protein intake evenly throughout the day. About a quarter of your meal or snack should be made up of protein rich foods. So if you need about 100g of protein per day, aim to have at least 25 grams of protein 4 times a day.
What other nutrients are important for building muscle?
Besides protein and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients play an important role in building muscle mass. Antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc help boost muscle recovery and growth. Eating a diet with lots of variety and rich in fruits and vegetables can help you get enough of these vital nutrients.
Looking for a “fun” way to add antioxidants to your diet? Try a Nooma Recovery Soda! They also have ingredients that can help reduce muscle soreness and are anti-inflammatory. Use coupon code MORGAN30 for 30% off your 1st order. (The Cherry Cola and Coconut Lime are my favorites!)
What should I eat after rehearsal or a workout to help with muscle recovery?
Here is an easy way to remember how to refuel: the “25-50-30” rule. It means eating at least 25 grams of protein and at least 50 grams of carbohydrate, all within 30 minutes of finishing activity. Following this rule will help replenish your energy stores and promote muscle growth. Here are a few examples you could try:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup peaches canned in juice, and 1 English muffin
3 hardboiled eggs, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 8 oz. of low-fat, chocolate milk
4 oz. of turkey, 2 pieces of bread, and 1 medium apple
6 oz. of Greek yogurt, half a cup of spinach, 1 cup blueberries, 1 frozen banana, and 4 oz. of low-fat chocolate milk blended into a smoothie
Being a successful marching athlete means you have to pay close attention to how you fuel your body. if you have dietary restrictions or are just struggling to figure out how to meet your nutritional needs, reach out to a registered dietitian for guidance and support! Find a local dietitian in your area using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website: Find an Expert.